What Style are McMansions? A Closer Look Inside the Cookie-cutter Dream Homes.

The term McMansion is often associated with the grand, extravagant Neo-eclectic style of architecture that can be spotted in most urban areas. The term is actually a negative one that came into existence because most of these homes were built by developers without the direction of an architect’s customized design. Here are some features that could easily be spotted in a McMansion:
  • Large square footage that dwarfs other homes in the neighborhood.
  • An excessive number of dormers, gables, and turrets that might not blend in with the rest of the neighborhood.
  • The use of multiple materials such as brick, stucco, and stone on the exterior of the house.
  • Two or more garages that could fit three or more cars.
  • A grand entrance with a large, ornate wooden door, pillars, and other decorative elements.
  • Wide-open spaces in the interior of the house that might not be very functional.
  • Extravagant finishing within the house such as high ceilings, intricate moldings, and chandeliers.
  • It’s important to note that not every large home can be classified as a McMansion and the term is often used in a derogatory way. However, if you’re in the market for one, it’s essential to ensure that the house is well-built and functional to meet your needs.
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    The Style of McMansions: An Examination of Its Origins, Characteristics, Sustainability, and Impact on Property Values

    The Origins of McMansions

    In the United States, the term McMansion became popular in the 1980s to describe large, ostentatious homes that were being built in the suburbs. These homes typically had a mishmash of architectural styles, including elements borrowed from Tudor, French Provincial, Mediterranean, and Colonial architecture. While some McMansions were custom-built, many were constructed by developers using cookie-cutter floor plans. The main goal was to provide more living space for the owner at a lower cost per square foot.

    Characteristics of a McMansion

    McMansions are typically characterized by a few key features:
    • Large, sprawling floor plans
    • Exterior facades with mixed styles and materials
    • Tall entryways with grand staircases
    • Expansive porticoes and balconies
    • Overly ornate trim and details, such as turrets and gables
    While these features can make a home look grand and impressive, they often lack the proportion and symmetry found in more refined architectural styles.

    The Negative Connotations of McMansions

    McMansions have come under fire in recent years, as many architects and home builders criticize them for their excess and lack of elegance. Many people view them as symbols of wealth and status, rather than as livable homes. Additionally, critics argue that McMansions can decrease property values of neighboring homes by sticking out as an eyesore in the community.

    Common Design Elements of McMansions

    Beyond the general characteristics outlined above, McMansions often share certain design elements that contribute to their generic nature.
    • Large, sweeping driveways that detract from yard space
    • Overuse of vinyl siding and other cheap materials to save on costs
    • Rooms that are too large or too small for their intended purposes
    • Copycat architectural details that are not based on actual historic styles
    • Excessive number of garage doors that detract from the home’s main facade
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    These design choices can contribute to the McMansion look and detract from the overall aesthetic of the home.

    Why McMansions Are Not Sustainable

    In addition to the lack of architectural integrity, McMansions are not sustainable. Their large size often results in high energy bills and inefficient use of space. Moreover, many McMansions are situated in car-dependent neighborhoods that make it difficult to walk or use public transit. This can lead to increased car traffic and air pollution in the surrounding area.

    Alternative Home Styles to McMansions

    For those seeking to avoid the McMansion trend, there are many alternative styles that are both attractive and eco-friendly. Some of these include:
    • Modern architecture, which prioritizes clean lines and efficiency
    • Bungalow-style homes, which emphasize compact, functional spaces
    • Mid-century modern homes, which feature large windows and natural materials
    • Passive homes, which use energy-efficient building techniques to reduce energy usage
    These styles are often more timeless and sustainable, and can help to set a home apart in a crowded market.

    The Impact of McMansions on Property Values

    As noted earlier, McMansions can have an impact on property values in surrounding neighborhoods. According to a 2008 study, homes located near McMansions tend to have lower valuations. This is due, in part, to the lack of harmony between the McMansion and the rest of the community. Additionally, McMansions can make it more difficult to sell a home in a neighborhood without them: buyers may be unwilling to pay a premium for a smaller, more traditional home situated next to a McMansion.

    Redesigning McMansions to be More Sustainable

    For homeowners who already own McMansions, it may be possible to redesign them to be more sustainable. One option is to divide large rooms into smaller, more usable spaces. Another is to upgrade the insulation and HVAC systems to reduce energy usage. Additionally, homeowners could consider adding green features like solar panels or rainwater collection systems to further reduce their environmental impact.
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    Conclusion: While McMansions may have been popular in the past, many homeowners and architects now view them as problematic. They lack the character and elegance of more refined home styles, and are often not sustainable. However, there are alternative options for those seeking grand, livable homes that are also eco-friendly. By considering these alternatives, homeowners can avoid the negative connotations associated with McMansions and create a home that is both attractive and efficient.

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